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Titus Andronicus

Back to Shakespeare

Wow. All I can say is "wow." I had heard before that the only right way to read Titus Andronicus is as a parody, and as such it was hilarious. While reading it in a public place I actually laughed out loud, and, quite embarrassed, I secretly hoped no one would ask me what I was laughing at. It was Aarons glib response to Tamoras sons in Act four scene two revolving around the innuendos inherent in the verb "do" (I have no access to OED, please tell me that used to have sexual connotations). Bloom hit the nail on the head in describing it as a "bloody farce." I agreed with him in every area but one, application. "Titus Andronicus performed an essential function for Shakespeare, but cannot do very much for the rest of us." (Bloom, p. 86) This final sentence launched me into a tirade. His cohort, Camille Paglia, appreciates the humor a little more, and, being more in touch with todays culture, called for Titus to, "be played by romping drag queens, so that its outrageous mannerisms clearly emerge." (Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae: Vintage Books, NY 1990; p. 194) It reminded me of a friend of mine who saw it performed in Ashland and upon leaving remarked to a friend, "It needed more blood." By conceding "no intrinsic value" (Bloom, p. 86) Bloom shows his lack or hipness. Titus, above all Shakespeares plays, is poignantly appropriate to our sarcastic, jilted, post-modern culture. Its self awareness and interest in the truly dark side of humanity is reminiscent of Stephen Coupland and Chuck Palahniuk. Its sexual innuendos call to mind American Pie and Kevin Smiths films, possibly superseding them. If one showed all of Shakespeares plays, including Titus Andronicus with gore galore (I envision Monty Python-esque fountains of blood), to a twenty-something crowd, Titus would be the unanimous victor. What does this say about our culture, as well as the relevance of our message? Our culture is one in just as dire need of our message as ever, though they have been cheated and lied to, and jaded as they may be, they need truth and goodness, for they are fed up with cultural Christianity and the mores associated with it.


Copyright (c) 2004 Jason Helms.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "
GNU Free Documentation License".

Copyright (c) 2004 Jason Helms.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "
GNU Free Documentation License".